To understand the dragonfly totem we must first understand the power of the insect on the planet, which houses over 800,000 species of this creature, the most prolific of all life forms. Insects have been used as totems for many societies for thousands of years.
Insects, maybe more than any other creature, understand the environment around them and how to survive in it and in spite of it. They possess qualities that make them resistant to extinction. They can fly; their skeletons are on the outside like armor; they are seriously adaptable; they’re small; they can control their own reproduction and can change in a metamorphic sense.
One can see how these qualities can be useful and possibly copied by humans and that’s what makes them such great totems. They have the ability to morph; to start with an egg that hatches into a crawling thing that then takes up residence or hibernation in a chrysalis state in preparation for the final stage or product, the thing with wings. This may be the model for creating anything as everything takes time and is subject to stages of development like the snake, molting its old form, its former self, into something new and uncharted.
We can’t forget about the social quality of insects. Most insects live in communities that ensure their survival as they help each other.
It has been said that they have a magical power of breath as they breathe through their bodies and take in prana. (Life force) They also exhibit strength as they can lift hundreds of times their own weight. They have antennae to sense their environment; one appendage that takes the place of eyes, noses, ears and even tongues. They have some sensitivity about the situation around them and maybe that’s why we use the phrase, “What’s bugging you” as we are saying that someone is sensitive to something in their environment that is disturbing.
Their compound eyes can detect the simplest movement and can be a teaching for us humans that are so self-absorbed and anthropomorphic that we don’t even notice what’s going on around us.
Dragonflies, the most adaptable of insects, may have existed on this planet for over180 million years. They are colorful and inherent in that is the message for us to show our true colors and maybe, become who we are aching to become. And dragonflies can eat while they’re flying. Humans have somewhat copied the insect. We have learned to eat while traveling in vehicles and even walking down the street.
But their helicopter-like flight pattern is what separates them from the other flying insects as the hummingbird does for the rest of the aviary family. These creatures start out in the water of all places, maybe the same place we started out from. In the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy book, the water and air that these creatures live in represent the continual struggle and relationship between the heart and the mind.
The dragonfly that shows up in your environment may be giving you the message that you need a change in your life, a new perspective, and a new look at your emotions. Maybe you are too much in your head and need to get in touch with your feelings. It could signal a time for a change, which relates to the seasons, since they only appear in spring and summer, which are the seasons of change, as opposed to the winter, the season of dormancy and reflection.
Since the dragonfly remains in the nymph state for nearly two years, its presence could indicate the two-year waiting period is over and change is imminent. Or, it could be the beginning of a two-year period of transformation and the seeds of change have been sown.
The main predator of the dragonfly is the frog so a study of the frog totem may shed some light on the dragonfly totem.
Dragonflies live in the realm of light and are only active during the day in summer as they require the warmth of the sun to function and this is part of its message; that we need to spend time in the sun and near the water. The light from the sun refracts off of its cellular structure and creates blue and green iridescent colors that make them appear magical and may represent new light and often, joy. They’re mysterious and comical the way they appear and disappear and then appear somewhere else.
For the American Indian they represent dragons, the ancient beasts that used to roam the planet and have now assumed this tiny, innocuous form.
Dragonflies tell us that we are also creatures of light and can reflect light in such a way that gives us power and they seem to say, "Let there be light" and encourage us to use the creativity and imagination we were born to use.